PCGG to continue hunt for Marcos wealth

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNNews.com

Posted at Jan 02 2013 09:00 PM | Updated as of Jan 04 2013 12:16 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Contrary to reports that the agency is about to close shop, the head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on Wednesday said they will continue the hunt for the ill-gotten wealth of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his alleged cronies.

PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista, in an interview on ANC, clarified that they have not received orders from the Palace to end operations and transfer their tasks to other government agencies.

"No, it's not. We'd like to clarify. We need to explain," he said. "After our first 100 days in office, we submitted a report to the Office of the President, wherein we recommended that the operations of the PCGG be wound down (and) all the pending cases should be transferred to the DOJ and that the assets under sequestration and have been surrendered to us should be moved to the Department of Finance.

"That is our recommendation done over a year ago," Bautista said.

The recommendations made in 2011 have yet to be acted upon by the Palace. "We have not heard from that. We continue our job."

"If we don't get any marching orders to the contrary, we will continue pursuing our mandate to recover the ill-gotten welath during the time of President Marcos," Bautista added.

P70B recovered in 2012

He said the PCGG is continuing to recover loot from the Marcos dictatorship.

"In fact, 2012 was our banner year. We've been able to recover over P70 billion. This includes the 24% San Miguel shares," he said.

"In the 26 years of PCGG, we have been able to remit more than P164 billion," he said. "We calculated the amount of money spent, about P5 billion to P7 billion."

Factoring in the PCCG's operational expenses, Bautista said the agency was able to able to remit to the government P6 for every peso it has spent.

"Iyun ang aming pangako na na habang kami'y nakaupo diyan, sisikapin namin na we'll always be in the black," he said.

Bautista said reports claiming that the agency will soon close down caught him by surprise.

"We were surprised na bigla na lang lumabas itong istoryang ito. It was a slow news day I think yesterday," he said.

"I granted an interview to Agence France-Presse, 2 1/2 to 3 months ago. That is in respect to the paintings that were recovered," he said.

"(On future plans,) I told them we had recommended in 2011 to wind down, but never did I say that we will stop the hunt for the Marcos loot," he added. That is why I was surprised."

"We have to be careful with respect to headlines. Sometimes, it's spun in a certain way, perhaps certain agenda wants to be pushed," he said.

Bautista said they made the recommendation in 2011 to close down because they saw that other agencies may do the PCGG's work. "After reviewing it, we sort of realized that in terms of functions it is performing, these functions can be transferred to other agencies."

"When the PCGG was created in 1986, there was no anti-corruption agency in government," he said, adding that the Office of the Ombudsman was created only a year later.

"Twenty-five years had passed, many cases have been filed in court, evidence have been lost, witnesses passed away," he said. "[The] task of the commission has become difficult."

"Our recommendation was to wind down the work of the commission... [but] no way have I said that we are ending the hunt. I did not say that. It should continue. There remains substantial wealth, here and outside the Philippines," Bautista said. - with ANC